Saturday, May 18, 2024

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Board accepts change in fire district’s boundary to accommodate fire chief’s move to new home

Commissioners approve change on 3-2 vote

Alamance County’s commissioners have agreed to tweak the boundary of the Pleasant Grove fire district in order to accommodate a proposed move by its chief to a home in a neighboring jurisdiction.

During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, the commissioners voted 3-to-2 to let the Pleasant Grove fire district absorb three parcels from the adjacent Haw River district – including one where Pleasant Grove’s chief Jason Anderson plans to relocate.

John Payne, the county’s fire marshal, had originally presented this proposed change to the commissioners last month at the behest of Anderson, whose family has long owned two of three parcels that are slated for transfer between the two districts.

During his previous appearance, Payne told the commissioners that without this adjustment, Anderson’s move would cost him his position as Pleasant Grove’s chief – which he has held for the past two and a half years. Payne added that the proposed transfer would affect the site of Anderson’s new home as well as two other parcels along NC 49 that were just on the other side of Pleasant Grove’s boundary with the Haw River district.

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In his presentation last month, Payne assured the commissioners that the proposed change had already been cleared by Pleasant Grove’s board of directors as well as Haw River’s municipal leaders, who’d lose a mere $200 in tax revenue during the transfer. Payne also touted the support of both Anderson and his father, who owned two of the three affected lots, although at the time, he was unable to confirm the wishes of the third property owner – Antonio Garcia.

Payne’s failure to touch base with the third property owner ultimately compelled the commissioners to postpone their decision on the request. Since then, the fire marshal has secured Garcia’s consent, which he had in hand when he returned to the commissioners on Monday.

During his presentation on Monday, Payne informed the commissioners that, even if they accept the proposed change, it wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that Anderson will, in fact, hold onto his position as chief of the Pleasant Grove fire district.

“He is up for nomination tonight,” the fire marshal added. “But he could be beat out in the election.”

The proposed adjustment to Pleasant Grove’s boundaries nevertheless left a bad taste with commissioner Pam Thompson, who insisted that “the perception to the community” is crucial to consider in evaluating the change. Thompson was later joined by commissioner Bill Lashley in voting against the adjustment, which passed 3-to-2 with the support of commissioners Craig Turner, Steve Carter, and John Paisley, Jr.

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